Facebook was grilled by US lawmakers regarding possible harm to children’s mental health andif it’s services could cause them harm. As a result, Facebook has defended the impact of its products, saying Instagram has ‘certainly helped’ young people. Antigone Davis, The global head of safety, Facebook has testified to the US Senate about child protection. This follows a leak that revealed Instagram’s research found the platform could harm children’s wellbeing.
According to Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri, the app’s mental health effects on teens are ‘quite small’. Initially, the committee cited Facebook’s own research that claimed Instagram could have a negative impact on body image and self-esteem. There is an increase in anxiety and depression among teenagers due to Instagram, according to the report. In an interview with The BBC, Davis said, ‘We conduct this research, to make our platform better, to minimize the bad and maximize the good, and to identify proactively where we can improve’.
‘We want our platforms to be a place for meaningful interactions with friends and family, but people must feel safe for that to happen’. Senator Richard Blumenthal, chair of the Senate committee on consumer protection, product safety, and data security, highlighted that Facebook initially denied being aware of any negative correlation.
As he stated, ‘We know that it chooses the growth of its products over the well-being of our children. We now know Facebook is indefensibly delinquent in protecting them. It’s failing to hold itself accountable and I ask how can we, parents, or anyone trust Facebook’. Davis repeatedly failed to respond to the committee’s questions and said she would have to check with Facebook.